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Buckskin Jesus

April 26, 2008

***This falls under the category of “previously published elsewhere”

A few months ago, at women’s Bible study, an insightful godly man (and co-chaplain of the Washington Redskins), Jerry Leachman spoke about why men don’t like church. There’s been much talked about on that subject in recent years, and as a woman, I have to say, I’ve felt a bit on the outside of this discussion. (And, rightly so, in part, because much of the rhetoric of the books on the subject blame women for the “feminization” of the Church.) Jerry described to us a man he called “Buckskin Jesus.”

Buckskin Jesus takes risks, lives on the edge, and doesn’t fear what’s to come because He completely trusts His God. He helps others along, pulling their wagons out of the ditch in the rain so they can get back on track. He goes ahead of the party to scout out danger and He mysteriously reappears to give them direction and to reassure them the road ahead is good for travel. Jerry said men like “Buckskin Jesus,” and I don’t know if it was Jerry’s enthusiastic imagery or his passion for the subject, but by the end of his lecture, I was liking Him myself.

What Jerry didn’t say (but many in the modern “masculinity movement” do) is that Buckskin Jesus is just for men. According to many of these authors women prefer the tamer, and in my opinion, lamer, pacifist Jesus who sits around hugging little kids all day. And this, they say, is why the Church is full of women and old people (as if old men have somehow lost their masculinity along with their teeth and hair, but then again, that’s another post entirely…).

These authors, most notably John Eldredge of Wild at Heart fame, argue that men need to get back to their natural, wild lives. Eldredge begins his thesis by examining the Garden of Eden, and notes (extra-biblically, I might add) that Adam was “made” in and for the wilderness, not the Garden. This line of thinking suggests that leaving Adam in the Garden, not throwing him out of it, would have been a more punitive result of original sin. Not only that, but apparently, we’ve all been relying too much on Jeremiah 27:9, despite the fact that a deceitful heart is a concept reinforced throughout Scripture.  But besides this fallacious hermeneutic, I have other problems with the modern masculinity movement.

I’ve long had a problem with the reinforcement of the flesh in today’s masculinity movement.   As Brandon O’Brien writes in an intelligent article at Christianity Today:

[A] man’s natural inclinations may prompt him to be “Boss, Bold, Brash, Bully, and Blunt,” as one of GodMen’s sayings suggests. But most of these are qualities of the old self that are destroyed when one is transformed into the image of Christ. A man’s urge for battle—with fist or pen—may well be natural, but that doesn’t automatically make it godly.

No one called Jesus a wimp for going to the cross, and for “turning the other cheek,” yet many church leaders would have Christian men “swing back” in some attempt to prove their machismo. Being a man is no more about grunting and scratching oneself than being a woman is about vacuuming and wearing high heels.

Men like Jerry Leachman model Christ-likeness.  Just looking at the man reveals he is confident, generous, and gentle.  He also has a pretty brassy wife, Holly, who is a gifted teacher in her own right.  Their marriage is one that exemplifies teamwork and accountability.  There is no explicit or implicit battle over whose turn it is to wear the pants.  Jerry models respect for his wife (something that certain authors, read: Love and Respect, would say is wasted on women and best given to husbands) and Holly demonstrates her loyalty and admiration for her husband.

In my own life, I have a husband who stands up for his family, washes the dishes, can fix almost anything, and hugs and kisses his son—a lot. Moreover, he encourages his wife to be brave and to do the things God has called her to do (even when it might cost him something he wants), and he doesn’t shy away from putting her in her place when she gets too big for her britches. The combined humility, strength and tenderness of a man like that are the same characteristics that draw all people to Christ.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. blackwatertown permalink
    September 26, 2010 12:12 am

    Interesting post about the “Buckskin Jesus”. You might find this interesting too – Jackson Brown’s song “The Rebel Jesus”.

    • bnbecky permalink*
      September 26, 2010 12:42 am

      I’m not a big Jackson Browne fan, but that song is pretty awesome. Thanks for visiting and thanks for the video!


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